I am a Programmer Luddite

Several years ago I decided that I didn’t want to use the ‘barneyb.com‘ domain for my personal blog anymore.  I’m not sure what the catalyst was, or even whether there was a catalyst, but I do know that there were two primary factors at play.  Those factors have remained constant (if not increasing in relevance) over the intervening years, and I am now happy to say I have a new blog here at programmerluddite.com.  And yes, ludditeprogrammer.com will also work for those of you who, like me, can never get the words in the right order.

The first factor was the morass that barneyb.com had become.  It has housed between seven and twelve WordPress blogs, several large-scape web apps, a pile of little utilities and demo apps for various purposes, all of my self-contained open source projects, and eight years worth of blog posts.  The domain has lived on an old Dell laptop, an old workstation in my basement, a massively shared PHP host, a dedicated server, and now on EC2.  This has yielded a URL structure which is somewhat convoluted and an Apache HTTPD configuration which was even more insane.

The second factor was that the history of BarneyBlog (my blog at barneyb.com) indicated a trajectory which didn’t really match real life.  I don’t think it accurately reflects the developer that I am, let alone the person I am.  Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t represent reality, of course.  At the micro level, each individual post is a valid glimpse into my world, but the whole doesn’t seem to match up at the macro level.

The net of it was that I wanted a new projection of myself onto the web.

About the same time I realized just how little affinity I have for technology in general.  Technology is a tool, and while it can be a useful tool, no tool can hope to exist for it’s own sake.  Tools “buy” their existence through utility; non-useful tools aren’t tools, they’re just stuff.  A huge swath of technology falls into this latter category, and I seem to be fairly unique amongst my peers in judging such tech purely on utility.  The “luddite” moniker is not a perfect fit, but it certainly conjures up the appropriate imagery.

The other half of the name was somewhat more difficult to pin down.  I’ve spent a lot of time over the past five or seven years thinking about what label best describes what I do in my chosen career.  None of them seem to match up perfectly.  I’ve adopted the term “software craftsman”, but calling this site “software craftsman luddite” seemed rather pretentious.  “Programmer”, I think, indicates a similar love of the act of programming.  I.e., the love of programming itself, not the creation of software (which necessarily has an external purpose).  Yes, I appreciate the irony.

I write code to fulfill needs.  I create tools, some for me and some for others.  But my love of software development is selfish.  Meeting people’s needs with software is pleasing; crafting beautiful software is satisfying.  I solve problems with technology.  I eschew technology for it’s own sake.  I am a programmer luddite.